Raoul O’Roarke


TracyMelMGF2018

At the 2018 Merola Grand Finale. Photo: Kristen Loken

Happy Fall! I’ve been busy writing, being a mom, working at Merola (there above are Mélanie and I at the Merola Grand Finale, photo by the amazing Kristen Loken), and haven’t been posting enough. But one result of that writing is the The Darlington Letters, a novella that continues the Rannoch series were The Duke’s Gambit left off, is now up for pre-order. It will be released November 14. It included a teaser for the next full length novel, The Glenister Papers, which will be out in May 2019.

I’m really excited to have a new story out in the world. Meanwhile here are a couple of out takes that didn’t make it into The Duke’s Gambit.

The first is a scene between Malcolm and Addison, which I didn’t include because getting Addison and Blanca back from Italy in the time allotted proved too complicated.

Addison shook out a black cashmere coat. “Your cravats are sadly in want of starching, but that’s easily done. Your coats are in reasonably decent order, but as long as we’re in London, we might as well order you a new one from Hobbs. Boots too.”
Malcolm studied his valet. “Addison, we won’t—”

“Be here long? All the more reason to attend to it while we can. We ordered from the Continent once or twice, but it much better when they can tailor them on you in person.”
“Addison, for God’s sake, we have—“
“More important things to think about? I won’t argue with that.” Addison folded the black coat. “It doesn’t mean we don’t have time for the coats.” He twitched a sleeve smooth. “I know the pressures you’re under. I’m concerned about Mrs. Thirle myself. I can scarcely imagine how difficult it must before for you. It won’t take much of your time. I can handle the rest.”
Malcolm got up and went to pour two glasses of whisky. “You should spend the time we have here with your family.”
“I will.” Addison met Malcolm’s gaze as he accepted a glass of whisky. “But you of all people should understand about the need to keep busy.”

 

The second I cut from a longer scene between Laura and Raoul. Part of what’s below remained in the published book, but I cut the last part because I think it can oversimplify to say that a current relationship, however strong, renders prior relationships less important. I’m curious about what other’s think.

Laura put her hands on his chest. “There’s something else to report about the League.” She kept her voice as conversational as possible. “One of their members approached me today.”

She told him about Sir Lucius Brandon, as succinctly and with as little drama as possible. Raoul listened without interruption, his gaze steady on her face, but his brows drew together.

“I got you into this.”

“Not this,” Laura said. “I got entangled with the League on my own. I’m rather insulted they know me so little they think there’s the least chance they could turn me against you. Or convince me they could or would protect you.”

“They’re desperate.”

“Which could be an advantage.”

“Or could make them more dangerous.”

“We’ve always known the League were a potential threat.”

“But they hadn’t verbalized it this directly.” He pulled her to him again, his chin on her hair. “I don’t think I could survive anything happening to you.”

“That’s nonsense,” Laura said, voice muffled by his cravat. “You know you could survive anything if you had to. And you’d have to, for the children.”

“There are different definitions of survive. I’d find a way to go on.”

Laura pulled her head back to look up at him. “And I hope you’d be happy again.”

He put his hand against the side of her face. “One doesn’t find this again, my darling.”

She looked into his gaze. The gaze of a man shaken, perhaps more than he had thought possible. Which in turn shook her.

“You’d like to fling my past in my face?” he said. “I don’t deny the other bonds I’ve formed. I don’t deny their strength. This is different, Laura. This, what we’ve built. We’ve been playing for keeps from the first. Even before we—I—admitted it.”

She slid her arms round him. “For me as well. And of course I also hope it never comes to pass. I feel the same way when you’re gone. I know I can’t completely deny the risks. I trust you’re taking every precaution. I trust you. I trust you trust me.”

“You know I do, sweetheart. It doesn’t make the terror go away.”

“It’s part of the lives we lead.”

He gave a bleak smile and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “That’s my Laura. Throwing my own words back at me.”

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Meeting Cinderella

Mélanie and I had an enchanting night last week attending the brilliant touring production of Into the Woods. It’s a favorite of mine and of Mélanie’s as well, thanks to the movie and a local theatre production last year. We play the CD all the time and she can sing most of the songs, which we sometimes act out at home. It was a treat to see this beautiful, inventive production (do go if you get a chance!) done on a fairly bare stage with a great cast who found new nuances in the songs and story.

 

The night  was made extra magical by Cinderella (the golden-voiced and very talented Laurie Veldheer who made the princess both engaging and multi-layered) coming over to talk to Mélanie before the show when some of the cast greeted the audience. Mélanie was in transports and waved to Cinderella during the curtain call. Later we ran in to Laurie Veldheer by the stage door and she couldn’t have been nicer. Mélanie kept saying “I can’t believe we met Cinderella!” Some kids meet Cinderella at Disneyland for the first time. Mélanie met her at a Stephen Sondheim musical. Definitely my daughter :-).

 

With this and Beauty and the Beast it’s a been a week for fairy tales. My characters often refer to “not living in a fairy tale” and yet there are echoes. The line in Into the Woods from the Baker’s song “No More”, “No more curses you can’t undo, left by fathers you never knew” always makes me think of Malcolm. Not that Raoul left him a curse precisely or that Malcolm didn’t know him. But Malcolm certainly is dealing with the often mysterious legacy of the older generation. And it occurs to me that though Suzanne would say she’s the opposite of Cinderella, she does meet her husband while masquerading, she worries about when he will realize she’s not who she claims to be, and she goes from living on the streets to the equivalent of living in a palace. Like the Into the Woods Cinderella, she finds living in a palace has its challenges (though Malcolm is certainly very different from her prince in the musical).

 

Do you see any fairy tale parallels in the Rannoch series?

 

On another note, we’re finishing up a very fun reread of the Rannoch books on the Google + Group. On April 1st we’ll have an Ask the Author thread, and I’ll be giving away an advanced electronic copy of Gilded Deceit to a commenter. Do stop by!

 

 

buckeye

 

Hope everyone is having  a wonderful midwinter, however you celebrate! It’s been a very busy couple of months for me, with the release of Mission for a Queen and working madly away at Gilded Deceit so it can go the copy editor in the New Year. As always seems to happen with a book, there are moments I despair and moments I think it’s working rather well. On my current draft I’m quite excited about how the Rannochs’ adventures on Lake Como are shaping up.

In the flurry of preparing for the holidays, I thought it might be fun to speculate on what Malcolm and Suzanne and their friends might give each other, either in 1818 or if they lived today. We don’t know where Christmas of 1818 will find them, but we could speculate as though they are still in Italy – or wherever you prefer.

I think Malcolm would give Suzanne a garnet pendant surrounded by diamonds (I know he gave her another garnet pendant but she’s fond of the stone and this is a very different design). It could work in 1818 or 2016.

garnetpendant

In 1818, Suzanne might give Malcolm a first edition of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (one of the books William Caxton printed) as a reminder of Britain and something he could read with the children. In 2016 she might give him the same thing (though probably not a first edition!) or perhaps a new iPad, since he might not get that for himself as it’s not as practical as a phone or a computer. And he might keep insisting he was fine with the old one with the cracked screen :-).

Raoul might give Laura a blue topaz necklace in 1818 or 2016, to go with the earrings he sent her before the ball in Incident in Berkeley Square. Laura might give Raoul framed pictures of her and Emily to take with him when he travels – miniatures in 1818, photos in folding travel case in 2016.

David might give Simon a ring in 1818 or 2016, though in 2016 the ring would go with a formal proposal.

What do you think these characters and others might give each other, in 1818 or today?

sleigh

 

Happy holidays!

Tracy

 

In the Merola offices with Mélanie the day she turned four and ten months

In the Merola offices with Mélanie the day she turned four and ten months

Happy Saturday from the delightfully gray and rainy Bay Area. I’ve been buried in the WIP (writing about sunny Italy), Mission for a Queen is up for pre-order on most platforms (I’ll post links early next week, but you should be able to search for it).

Meanwhile, for a quick break, a topic I’ve been wanting to explore. An interesting thread on the Google+ Group a couple of months ago got me to ponder the phrase “love of one’s life.” The term came up in regards to Raoul O’Roarke and Malcolm’s mother Arabella. i’m not sure it applies to them, but beyond that, I’m not sure what I think of the whole idea of a person having a single “love of their life.” Malcolm’s aunt Lady Frances says she’s never much cared for the phrase, and I’m inclined to agree with her. Or perhaps it’s that I think it’s less that a person meets the love of their life than that, ideally, two people grow into being the loves of each other’s lives, as they grow and change together over the course of a relationship. I think that has already happened to a degree with Suzanne and Malcolm – neither of them is quite the person they were when they married; each has influenced the other in ways that strengthen their bond. (I think that’s true of other couples in the series as well, but perhaps particularly of Malcolm and Suzanne).

I also think it’s hard to judge someone the love of someone’s life while that life is still unfolding. Right now in the series, Cordelia pretty clearly seems to be the love of Harry’s life – he fell hard for her when he first met her, wanted her under any circumstances, never got over her despite a painful betrayal, reconciled with her and is still desperately in love with her. She also seems to be the first and only woman he came close to loving (if he hadn’t met her, it seems he might have been a bachelor like his uncle Archie). But Harry is only 30. If Cordy died or ran off with another man, would Harry never love again to such a degree? Very possibly, but not I think inevitably. (Please note, I am only using Cordy dying or running off with another man as hypotheticals; they are not in any way intended to be spoilers).

In that sense, it’s probably somewhat easier to talk about Raoul’s place in Arabella’s life, since we can look back on her whole life, than Arabella’s place in Raoul’s life. We can look at what Arabella meant to him thus far, but even though he’s a couple of decades older than Malcolm or Harry, he could still have a longer relationship with Laura (or theoretically some other woman) than he had with Arabella.

What do you think of the phrase “love of one’s life”? And, turning my post on its head, given the limitations of the phrase do you think, up to this point in the series, the central couples (Malcolm and Suzanne, Harry and Cordy, David and Simon, Rupert and Bertrand, Raoul and Laura, any other couples you want to address) are the loves of each other’s lives? Why or why not?

Cheers,

Tracy

earrings

Incident in Berkeley Square will be out Monday, 2 November. I’m so excited to have it out in the world and be able to discuss it with readers. Last week I shared the pendant that was my inspiration for the pendant Malcolm gives Suzanne. Above are the earrings that were my inspiration for the blue topaz earrings Raoul sends to Laura before the book begins and that she wears to the ball (the earrings above are green quartz).

We had fun on the Google Group with readers guessing who some quotes from the book belonged to. Here are a few more to while away the time until 2 November. For any or all guess who is speaking, whom they are speaking to, and if you like speculate on the circumstances in which the quote is spoken.

  1. “Ten minutes, and you’ll never know anyone was here.”
  2. “Thank you. For being who you are.”
  3. “I think the only thing to do is seek refuge on the dance floor.”
  4. “No, I know, safer that way, for him and me. Doesn’t stop me from worrying. He’s not hurt?”
  5. “I think you’re doing both of you a disservice. Where do you think he got those ideals in the first place?”

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend! Here are Mélanie and me at the Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree at Children’s Fairyland last weekend.

Happy All Hallows’ Eve!

Tracy

photo: Raphael Coffey

photo: Raphael Coffey

Arrived in Ashland in the OSF Member Lounge

Arrived in Ashland in the OSF Member Lounge

Happy Friday! I’m very pleased to announce that the Teresa/Tracy Grant Google+ group is starting up again, thanks to the wonderful Betty Strohecker. If you’re a member, be sure to check it out. If you aren’t a member, do consider joining. There’s a icon to join on this site. i’ll be popping in myself, though it’s primarily a group for readers.

At Crater Lake

At Crater Lake

8.31.jpgTracyMellunch

Lunch at the Crater Lake lodge

Earlier this month Mélanie and I had wonderful trip to Ashland, Oregon. We saw friends, ate some great meals, went shopping, took a great day trip to Crater Lake (Mélanie was fascinated by the model showing how it was formed by a volcano), and my friends and I saw some amazing theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As always those performances were a wonderful source of creative inspiration for my writing. Among the highlights was Sweat, the world premiere of a play by the wonderful Lynn Nottage. Set between 2000 and 2008 in Reading, Pennsylvania, a manufacturing town in which the factories are closing down, the play manages to at once offering a broad social commentary and create vivid, heartrending portraits of specific characters so real you feel you could step on the stage and into their world. A great example of examining complex ideas by showing not telling. It opens in 2008 and with two characters being released from prison and then moves back in a time to the events that got them there. This creates wonderful dramatic tension. I love playing with narrative and timelines and how it can affect how a story unfolds.

Shopping!

Shopping!

Après theatre in Ashland

Après theatre in Ashland

Another highlight was a brilliant Antony & Cleopatra directed by OSF artistic director Bill Rauch. The tension between personal relationships and the political stage could not be resonate for me with my own writing. Suzanne and Malcolm are minor characters in world events compared to Anthony and Cleopatra, but the tension between personal loyalties and desires and political loyalties (and sometimes sheer political expedience) is one they and many other characters in the series know well. Miriam Laube and Derrick Lee Weeden brought Cleopatra and Anthony to life in fabulous performances that made the two characters at once larger than life and very, very human. In the “One more gaudy night” scene, Anthony, who has just talked boldly about charging back to battle, has a moment the reveals his own qualms about success. A few moments later, Cleopatra’s concern for him flashes across her eyes when he isn’t looking. Anthony and Cleopatra are flawed characters who make flawed choices at times. They aren’t always loyal to each other. But in the end their love for each other survives the political maneuvering, even if they do not.

Dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Après theatre

Après theatre

Family portrait

Family portrait

At intermission, a friend and I were discussing how wonderfully clear and exciting all the political intrigue felt. John Tufts as another stand out as Octavius. Cold, scheming, but not entirely without empathy. All in all a brilliant night of theatre on a trip filled with wonderful theatrical moments and wonderful writing inspiration.

Drinks on our terrace

Drinks on our terrace

Dinner at Amuse, another favorite

Dinner at Amuse, another favorite

In closing, a question inspired by blog discussions the past couple of weeks that perhaps is not unrelated to the love and politics themes of Anthony and Cleopatra. At the end of The Mayfair Affair Raoul tells Laura “I have no right to ask you to feel any sort of obligation. But I feel one.” When the novella opens six weeks later, Laura has been muling what this means. What do you think it means? What if Raoul offering/committing to?

Visiting our friends at Weisinger Winery

Visiting our friends at Weisinger Winery

Brunch at Brother's, a favorite haunt

Brunch at Brother’s, a favorite haunt

A magical dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

A magical dinner at Alchemy, one of our favorite restaurants

Mélanie and I just got back from a great week at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. More on that next week when I have a chance to collect my thoughts on the plays. But while we were seeing great  theatre, eating great meals, and spending time with wonderful friends, I was mulling a comment Betty made a couple of weeks ago about Raoul. “I know his life would never be completely settled, but I think Laura would understand that. I really see Raoul as an honorable man – his wife made her own choices, so it seems like that relationship is ended in thought anyway. I think he is honorable in his work as well as in his friendships.”

This particularly intrigued me, because I don’t see Raoul sees himself as honorable – I think he thinks many of his past actions are unforgivable. I think Laura sees him as much more honorable than he admits. Malcolm’s  feelings about Raoul’s actions are evolving while I think Suzanne thinks the very word “honour” covers a multitude of sins.

I’m curious to hear what other readers think. Do you see Raoul’s actions as honorable? Dishonorable? Differently now than his actions in the past? Why or why not?

Have a great weekend!

Tracy

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